Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Freedom to Be Offended

Anthony Andrews agrees with me, kind of:
Knighthoods are for snobs and faceless civil servants, not dissident artists. But if it means that The Satanic Verses, in spite of the book chains, finds a new readership, then arise Sir Salman, we salute you.
Of those, including writers, who once condemned Rushdie for 'his participation in his own downfall' he points out rightly:
Few appeared to realise that a massive symbolic attack had been launched against the most vital freedom, not only in art but in society, the freedom of expression. Still less that our rather timid and repentant response would encourage religious extremists and censors.
Freedom of speech threatened by a newly emerged respect for the 'right not to be offended'. What a joke. As if that's a right: not to be offended.

Once I went to Methodist Sunday School, and my ex-Catholic Irish father sneered. I was offended. But guess what, it taught me to stand up for what I believed in. Guess what, it made me stronger in my faith (until, all of my own accord, I lost it). One thing that scares me in life is politeness, because you don't know what people are really thinking, you don't know where you stand, and you don't know what stratagems they could be using against you while they smile and smile and smile...

Never trust those who are too scared to offend you. Trust those who have the courage to tell you what they think. For the sake of everyone's gods, let's embrace the freedom to be offended.
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